Friday, February 12, 2016
Fest Companion: THE WEEKEND MIX
Mardi Gras is over. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is a little over two months away. From 1999 until 2011, I had only missed one festival. This was a very important time for me, as the city of New Orleans was and still is in many ways, very important to me. Of course, there are the obvious reasons- music, food, warm weather, etc. But it was really one thing above all. The people.
The people of New Orleans somehow managed to calm me down. I didn't move as fast. I was more patient. I smiled more often. It wouldn't be wrong to attribute all of that to simply being on vacation, except the key to it all was never feeling like I was on vacation. I felt at home, even if I had only been visiting four times a year. The picture you see up top, is where you would find me most of the time. It wasn't just about the Festival. Sitting one short story above the corner of Royal & St. Philip, I would take a seat and just watch and listen. It was entertaining, yet very peaceful. I miss that balcony and I miss the city.
I don't go to New Orleans as often as I used to for a number of reasons, but it is the Festival itself that no longer that has that allure. Yes, many of the legendary performers from the city have passed on. There is nothing we can do about that. But seeing some headlining names such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Nick Jonas and Julio Iglesias, makes me feel like it's about something else these days.
I would compile a CD each year featuring artists performing at the Fest, mixed with artists and songs that just felt right for the mix. I called it the Fest Companion and I would mail it out to the small group of friends that would be taking the trip each year. I believe most of them loved getting the mail and the music. By the third or fourth Fest Companion, I'd receive calls and e-mails wondering when the new edition would be arriving. It was an amazing time.
I randomly pulled out "FC 2010" the other day and gave it a spin. I enjoyed it so much, I decided to share it with you.
The opening track, "Duck Feathers," is actually a 15 minute live track featuring "Big Chief" Donald Harrison Jr. on sax, Charles Fambrough on bass and the amazing Ricky Sebastian on drums. I could listen to just Ricky's intro for the full 15 minutes, but for the mix, I edited the track down. (I'm sorry, but I don't recall who is on guitar and keyboards.)
New Orleans has no shortage of amazing drummers and one of my personal faves is Herlin Riley. You will hear his quintet on "Soscalalah Blues."
As you might have read on these pages, my friend Stanton Moore is probably my favorite living drummer and you can hear him in the pocket as he takes a guest spot with the Forgotten Souls on "Lady Be Good."
Another friend is Maurice Brown. Born and raised in Chicago, Mo was the king of jazz in New Orleans for a too short period of time, holding residency on Frenchmen Street at Snug Harbor with a Tuesday night slot. Some of the hottest and freshest music I had ever heard came from Brown's trumpet and ensembles. Whether playing it straight with his quintet or funkin' it up with the larger group Soul'd U Out, Maurice had taken New Orleans by storm. And then sadly, the storm took it all back. My friend is now a New Yorker and has done very well for himself, touring with Tedeschi-Trucks, and becoming an in demand producer, while still composing and releasing his own music. The track here is a Maurice Brown original called "Lovely," and it is one of the most beautiful pieces of music you will ever hear.
Thousands of people brave the elements when attending Jazz Fest. Rain, wind, thunder, and mud can often be part of the experience. I've done it and I have rarely minded it. This is how I discovered The Bluerunners, dancing in the wind and rain and somehow not caring because the music felt bigger. The Bluerunners are here with "The Gravedigger."
One of my very favorite bands is from Lafayette and here, supergroup Lil' Band O'Gold, featuring the great C.C. Adock, Steve Riley, David Egan and Warren Storm give ELO a Cajun twist with their cover of "Hold On Tight." It's a natural.
Hope you get some pleasure out of this.
Duck Feathers (Edit)- Donald Harrison Jr.
The Gravedigger-The Bluerunners
Don't Knock-The Spiders
It's All Over Now-Dirty Dozen Brass Band with Dr. John
Your Lips- Olu Dara
Lady Be Good- Forgotten Souls Brass Band
Lovely- Maurice Brown
When Your Hair Has Turned To Silver- Uncle Lionel Batiste
If You Let A Man Kick You Once-Henry Butler & Corey Harris
Soscalalah Blues- Herlin Riley
Trouble In Mind-Preservation Hall Jazz Band with Richie Havens
Dog Hill- The Iguanas
Whisper My Name- Lil Buck
Hold On Tight- Lil' Band O'Gold